One Pack. No Turning Back.

Day 8: San Marcos, CA to Phoenix, AZ, 6.26.15

Number of miles driven today: 405

Total miles driven on road trip: 1218

Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts? The first Dunkin' of the trip spotted today in Yuma, AZ! But this is still Starbucks country. 

Cheapest gas I saw today: $2.69

Number of red states visited overall (as of 2012 presidential election): 1

Number of blue states visited overall: 1

My cousin Josh's reaction upon finishing the Stallone/Schwarzenegger movie Escape Plan, which we watched in his Phoenix apartment today: "Never again."

​I will never forget where I was when history was made today.

With the Supreme Court's decision to allow gay marriage in all 50 states, we turned an important corner in the social progression of our country. I believe that years from now the next generation will look back at this day and wonder: "What took so long?" 

I will always remember where I was--embarking on the longest driving day of the trip so far, the first real test of my 2002 Honda Accord's stamina. To use an analogy from baseball, apt given the nature of this trip, until today the Accord was a middle reliever and today it was asked to make its first start of the season.

405 miles later, I think we can consider it a quality start.

Interstate 10 took me straight across the bottom of the Golden State, little known terrain for Bay Area types like myself, skirting so close to Mexico in some places that at one point I received a text that said "Welcome abroad!" Today was certainly a day of firsts--first long drive, first time in a new state (Barry Goldwater country!), first Dunkin' Donuts. 

And the first time I really doubted myself since leaving Oakland more than one week ago. 

A funny thing happens when you take a trip like this.

It was as if someone had pressed the pause button on my real life and I'm actually frozen in carbonite back in the room I rent in Oakland and this is just some bizarre dream sequence full of way too much gas station coffee. All of the space in my brain normally occupied by the mundane aspects of day-to-day life (paying bills, doing dishes, etc.) is now freed up, but since I'm traveling alone, there's no one else to be concerned about. That leaves a lot of room for the brain to spin, and anyone who knows basic psychology knows that the brain cannot be controlled--sitting in the car for hours on end, it's a lot like your car radio stuck on "scan," with each station a new thought, entering out of nowhere and then leaving just as mysteriously to be replaced by the next, often with no logical connection between the two (think country followed by hip hop).

In the span of a few hours, this "brain scan" can take you on a roller-coaster of emotions, just as it did today. One minute I was feeling like I had the world by the balls, an intrepid master of Gonzo journalism seeking Truth through 30-year old baseball cards. The next, I just wanted to wake up from this dream in my bed in Oakland. This is too hard, too much of a grind, a waste of time even. What am I doing, chasing old baseball players who might not even want to really talk to me? They probably think I'm too nosy, too persistent. The word's going to get out--don't talk to Brad, he's just a pest who asks too many questions. Doubt is a dangerous animal.

But then, just as quickly, the channel changes, and the next thought comes in, unannounced and intrusive, maybe disturbing but maybe uplifting. 

I have discovered one cure, albeit temporary, to this carousel of thought: The podcast Serial. 

God bless Serial.

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